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2017-JAN/APR: More climate change concerns:

Part 14: Climate debate continues.
Trump introduces censorship.
Disastrous flood in Columbia.
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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Earth, floating 1

No. The world is not drowning.
This striking image is imaginary.

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Nature of the debate over global warming/climate change:

There have been two separate arguments on this topic that have been reported widely in the media in recent decades:

  1. Some argue whether global warming is actually happening or not.

  2. Others accept that it is real, but differ in their belief of whether global warming is caused by human activity or by some shift that is occurring naturally, like an increase in the heat output of the sun.

With temperature graphs like those shown on the preceding essay, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny that a rapid and unprecedented temperature rise has been occurring since 1970. Global warming is definitely happening, even though President Trump has asserted in the past that it is a hoax originating in China.

As of early 2017:

  • NASA reported that:

    "Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position." 2

    However, polls by Pew Research show that political groups do not necessarily accept the existence this near consensus by climate scientists. Only 16% of conservative Republicans accept that a con census exists, while 55% of liberal Democrats do. 3

  • According to a mid-2016 U.S. polls by Pew Research, political groups hold widely divergent beliefs about climate change:
    • Conservative Republicans: 36% see no solid evidence it is happening; 48% agree it is happening due to natural causes; only 15% say it is real and man-made.
    • Other Republicans: 19% see no solid evidence it is happening; 46% agree it is happening due to natural causes; 34% say it is real and man-made.
    • Moderate & conservative Democrats: 15% see no solid evidence it is happening; 22% agree it is happening due to natural causes; 63% say it is real and man-made.
    • Liberal Democrats: 7% see no solid evidence it is happening; 14% agree it is happening due to natural causes; 79% say it is real and man-made. 3

In the future, we expect that:

  • A gradually increasing percentage of people world-wide will accept the reality of climate change, and

  • People who have denied it in the past will increasingly accept its existence, but many will blame climate change on natural, not human, causes.

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Future debates will probably concentrate on the cause(s) of global warming.

James Hansen, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has said:

"The record [high temperature during 2016] is due to a combination of the (natural) strong 2015-2016 El Niño (warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean surface) and the strong global warming trend that has continued from 1970 to the present. ... The human-caused, long-term warming trend is the bigger contributor."

El Niño is a cyclical weather fluctuation in the Pacific Ocean that repeats every two to seven years and has a major effect on the earth's climate:

 4

Michael Mann, director of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University said:

"[T]he spate of record-warm years that we have seen in the 21st century can only be explained by human-caused climate change.

The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts -- in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires -- that it is having on us and our planet.

Environmental Research Letters published a major report during 2013 that combined six independent studies of articles dealing with climate science. The six contributors all agreed that the belief that:

"... humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%–100% of publishing climate scientists." 5

On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed in 2012, 2014, and 2016 that climate change was a hoax. On 2012-NOV-06, he tweeted:

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." More examples.

The only bright news for 2017 is that a new, all-time, record high average temperature will probably not occur this year. That is because El Niño is diminishing in strength and will have less effect during 2017 on world temperatures that it did during 2016.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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2017-JAN-20: Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States:

Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court issued the oath of office to Donald Trump on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington DC. Trump was sworn in on two Bibles: his own childhood Bible and one that had been owned by Abraham Lincoln. A total of 67 Democratic members of the House of Representatives stated that they would not attend the inauguration because of:

"... what they described as his alarming and divisive policies, foreign interference in his election and his criticism of civil rights icon [Rep.] John Lewis, a congressman from Georgia." 6

Perhaps minutes after Trump became president, -- the exact timing is unknown -- two major changes were made to the White House web site at www.whitehouse.gov:

  • All references to the LGBT community vanished from the site. An internal search for "LGBT" returned an error message:

    "Sorry, no results found for 'LGBT'. Try entering fewer or broader query terms. "

  • The section of the web site that dealt with climate change disappeared. An internal search for "climate change" returned an error message:

    "Sorry, no results found for '"Climate change"'. Try entering fewer or broader query terms."

Fortunately, the earlier contents of the web site are still available because they were copied to https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/

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President Trump picks a new head for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Trump selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) for the post.

On JAN-18, just before the inauguration, Pruitt stated during his confirmation hearing that he accepts that climate change is real. However he does not necessarily agree that it is caused by human actions.

Pruitt is an unusual pick as head of the EPA because he had sued the agency 14 times in the past as the state attorney general. During his confirmation hearing, Senator Ed Markey, (D-MA) asked him to explain his beliefs about climate change. Pruitt said:

"I do not believe that climate change is a hoax."

However, when asked by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) whether he believed that climate change was caused by human factors, he was non-committal. He said:

"Science tells us the climate is changing and human activity in some matter impacts that change. The ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue." 7

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2017-APR-01: Hundreds of residents in Mocoa, Columbia die from floods and landslide:

Columbian President, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that at least 193 people had been killed following intense rains during the early morning hours in southern Columbia. (Columbia is located in the north-west corner of South America). The Red Cross reported that 400 people were injured and 220 are believed missing. The death toll is expected to rise as bodies are pulled out of the mud.

The city of Mocoa has about 350,000 residents. Three rivers flooded, carrying mud and water through the city, demolishing many structures. It happened after midnight, when most people were at home sleeping.

President Santos blamed climate change for the disaster. He noted that the rainy season was just beginning, and that the accumulated rainfall in Mocoa, Columbia during that one night was almost half the amount that the city normally receives during the entire month of March. 8

A brief video shot by a drone shows the destruction in Mocoa, Columbia:

 9

Alba Tobella, writing for Mercury News, reported that:

"President Juan Manuel Santos and other officials pledged emergency relief and said that Mocoa would be rebuilt, including a new water system to replace the one damaged in the flood and new homes for those in the 17 neighborhoods hit hardest by the surging water. He said he had spoken by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump, who promised assistance, as have other nations including China and Venezuela.

Santos also declared an 'economic, social and ecological emergency,' a designation intended to speed reconstruction efforts.

'We are not going to stop until everyone affected by this natural disaster receives help,' Marquez said."

By APR-04, at least 273 bodies have been found; more bodies continue to be discovered. 10

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More information is inevitable

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Image by Geralt. Downloaded from www.pixabay.com.
  2. "Scientific consensus: Earth's climate is warming," NASA, 2017-MAR-27, at: https://climate.nasa.gov/
  3. Cary Funk & Brian Kennedy, "Public views on climate change and climate scientists," Pew Research, 2016-OCT-04, at: http://www.pewinternet.org/
  4. "El Niño 101, National Geographic, at: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/
  5. John Cook, et al., "Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming," Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 4. at: http://iopscience.iop.org/
  6. Inauguration of Donald Trump, Wikipedia, as on 2017-JAN-21, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. Erin Kelly, "EPA nominee Pruitt contradicts Trump claim that climate change is a hoax," USA Today, 2017-JAN-18, at: https://www.usatoday.com/
  8. , "At least 193 dead, hundreds injured in Colombia as rivers overflow," The Toronto Star, 2017-APR-01, at: https://www.thestar.com/
  9. "Drone footage captures landslide destruction in Colombia – video report," Reuters. 2017-APR-02, downloaded from: https://www.theguardian.com/
  10. Alba Tobella, "Photos: Columbia’s Mocoa mourns mud flood victims," The Mercury News, 2017-APR-04, at: http://www.mercurynews.com/

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2017-APR-02
Latest update: 2017-APR-05
Author: B.A. Robinson


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